Alumni

Culinary Arts grad takes top honours at Gold Medal Plates competition

November 9, 2017

Mike Robins, Gold Medal Plates 2017For the second year in a row, a Red River College grad has taken the top prize at an annual competition showcasing the local culinary scene’s best and brightest.

Chef Mike Robins (Culinary Arts, 2010), of Osborne Village eatery Sous Sol, claimed the prime podium spot at this year’s Gold Medal Plates competition in Winnipeg. He now advances to the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna.

Robins edged out the competition with a perfectly seared scallop dish that judges described as “so simple [and] so delicious” — though they went on to concede the rest of the elements on his plate were anything but basic.

“Headlining in terms of umami-saturated flavour was a superb sauce — a beurre blanc made from a dashi broth and enriched with miso, [Robins’] homemade Dijon-style mustard, lemon, wine, and the liquor from the raw scallops,” reads a rave posted to the event’s blog site.

“Button-sized slices of zucchini, pickled in apple cider and cider vinegar flavoured with turmeric and mustard, stood upon dots of puréed carrot. A half teaspoonful of pickled mustard seed was carefully judged — not too tangy — while fresh dill fronds and a cool herb oil made with sorrel, dill and chives brought a little chlorophyll to the party.

Mike Robins' seared scallop dish“Potato also featured, but in a most unexpected way. They had been put through a Chinese turning slicer, emerging like string, which [Robins] dyed black with cuttlefish ink, wrapped around a cannoli tube and then deep-fried into crispy spirals.”

Each year in cities across the country, Gold Medal Plates regional events find chefs battling each other and the clock — with just 90 minutes to prepare and serve their culinary creations to a crowd of 600.

Dishes are then judged by a panel of food critics and culinary experts. This year’s judges included RRC’s Jeff Gill (Director, Food Services), former College staffer and MasterChef Canada contestant Mike Green, and last year’s regional winner, Culinary Arts alum Jeremy Friesen, of Pizzeria Gusto.

The events also double as a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which supports the technical, scientific, medical and coaching needs of Canada’s athletes.

The national competition takes place Feb. 2 and 3, 2018.

Photo credits: Peg City Grub/Mike Green

Inaugural Hospitality Homecoming set to celebrate alumni achievements, prep current students for success

October 16, 2017

Jane's restaurant, Paterson GlobalFoods InstituteYou’ve heard the phrase ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’? Well, for one day next month, the more cooks, the better.

On Tue., Nov. 7, the College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts will host its first Homecoming Dinner for graduates of the Culinary Arts, Professional Baking and Patisserie, and Hospitality and Tourism Management programs.

The event will celebrate the achievements of the school’s alumni, while raising money for the Student Travel Opportunity Fund, which helps Baking and Culinary Arts students compete in national and international competitions, and provides Hospitality and Tourism Management students with opportunities to enhance their skills through travel.

Recently, the Fund allowed two Baking students to attend a four-week-long course in Germany, and six Culinary Arts students to participate in the Cook the Books competition in Toronto.

“Participating in competitions motivates students to strengthen their technical skills, learn new techniques and practice at elevated skill levels,” says Karen McDonald, Chair of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at RRC.

“Our programs are strengthened when students can participate in high-level competitions, and bring back new skills they’re eager to share in the culinary labs. Similarly, students in Hospitality and Tourism programs benefit from educational travel by experiencing local cultures.”

 Read More →

RRC grads vie for podium placement at skilled trades competition in Abu Dhabi

October 5, 2017

Ashley Weber and Silas MeechesAshley Weber and Silas Meeches are no strangers to performing under pressure.

Between them, the Red River College grads have six gold and silver medals from provincial and national skills competitions under their belts. Now they’re taking their talents to the international level.

Weber and Meeches will travel to Abu Dhabi next week to compete with Team Canada in the 44th WorldSkills Competition, which will host 1,259 competitors from 58 countries and regions.

Held every two years, it’s the biggest vocational education and skills excellence event in the world based on global industry standards, and the best opportunity for competitors to demonstrate technical abilities while executing tasks they’d perform in their workplaces.

“It feels completely different,” says Meeches. “Part of it is being in a different country, but the competition is a lot more advanced. It’s longer and the rules are a lot more strict.”

The 21-year-old will be competing in the CNC Milling category, where he’s hoping to set a new record.

“The highest a Canadian has placed in my skill is seventh,” he explains. “Ultimately I want to win the gold, but placing sixth and setting a new record would be incredible.”

Weber, 20, has been passionate about car painting from the moment she got her hands on a spray paint gun in high school. She’s hoping this month’s opportunity will earn her a new credential for her resume.

“I’m aiming to receive the Medallion of Excellence,” says Weber. “It means that you’ve met or exceeded the industry standard in your trade. I feel confident that I have the most knowledge to do the best that I can in the competition, but I hope my best will earn me the medallion.” Read More →

Twist and shout: Paterson GlobalFoods Institute celebrates fifth anniversary with pretzel-making tutorial

September 22, 2017

Susanne Gessler, Paul Vogt and Brian Bowman, Paterson GlobalFoods Institute 5th anniversaryMayor Brian Bowman and Red River College President Paul Vogt joined students from RRC’s Professional Baking and Patisserie program this morning to mark the five-year anniversary of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute with a friendly pretzel-making bake-off.

The two were assisted by Suzanne Gessler, proud RRC graduate and owner of The Pennyloaf Bakery, a small-batch artisanal shop on Corydon. Gessler coached Bowman and Vogt while sharing her experiences as a baker and business owner — one who set aside her career as a civil servant to attend RRC’s Exchange District culinary school.

Gessler is one of more than 600 graduates who’ve passed through the doors of PGI since it became the new home to RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts in 2012.

“Today we celebrate not only the tremendous impact the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute has had on education in our city, but also the positive impact of the College’s expansion into the Exchange District,” says Vogt.

“Restoring heritage buildings and bringing thousands of students and staff to the area has sparked new economic activity and helped revitalize this iconic community.”

Before its restoration, PGI was home to the Union Bank Tower, Winnipeg’s first and oldest skyscraper — and at one time, the tallest building in Canada. Today, the LEED Gold-certified building houses RRC’s culinary, hospitality and baking programs, as well as the College’s first-ever student residence, which is running at full capacity this year.

PGI is a key component of RRC’s Exchange District Campus, which also includes the nearby Roblin Centre on Princess Street. The campus will soon undergo a massive expansion with the construction of a 100,000-square foot Innovation Centre. Fundraising efforts supporting the new state-of-the-art facility are now underway.

“Red River College continues to be a strong anchor and foundation supporting the growth and revitalization of our downtown and the Exchange District,” says Bowman. “It’s great to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, a building that continues to help foster round-the-clock activity, and it’s great to see people increasingly recognizing the Exchange as a place to visit, live and spend money.” Read More →

Rattling pans: RRC chefs doing culinary battle in support of CancerCare Manitoba

September 19, 2017

Claire Snowball, Red River College chefA pair of Red River College chefs will go head-to-head against some of the culinary community’s best this weekend, serving up on-the-fly creations while raising money for a worthy cause.

Representing RRC’s Food Services department, Claire Snowball and Jon Royal are among eight teams of competitors taking part in Kitchen Kumite: Clash of Pans, a culinary battle of innovation, passion and speed being held to benefit CancerCare Manitoba.

The Iron Chef-style event takes place at the Kitchen Sync on Donald Street, where chefs will attempt to create the best dish using different surprise ingredients from each competition. The quarter-finals take place this Sun., Sept. 24, while the semi-finals and finals will be held Sun., Oct. 1.

As is often the case in local competitions of these kind, Snowball (shown above) and Royal will be competing against a number of fellow RRC graduates, including Paul Eccles (Clementine), Mike Robins (Sous Sol), Jackie Hildebrand and Alex Poitras (Hy’s Steakhouse), Jeremy Senaris (MasterChef Canada runner-up), Mark Sobervinas (Fruit by the Slice), Matty Neufeld (Pine Ridge Hollow), and Stephen Strecker (ERA Bistro).

The event is the brainchild of local chef Allan Pineda (Baon Craft Lumpia, Baon Manila Nights), also a Culinary Arts grad from 2006.

Application status: RRC launches new web app for campus community

September 5, 2017

RRC Life (Red River College web app)Want to know what’s going on around campus? Need a tool to help promote your event to the College community? Starting this fall, there’s an app for that!

Red River College has launched a mobile-friendly, device agnostic web app called RRC Lifewith features unlike those of other college and university apps. Instead of focusing on schedules, grades, links to class sites and other commonly used tools (all of which are available to students through the rrc.ca login), RRC Life is designed to help members of the RRC community — including students, staff and alumni — better engage with College life.

Much of the RRC Life app was conceptualized and developed by our very own students. The College’s Marketing and Web Presence team started the initiative by partnering with Business Information Technology (BIT) students on a curriculum-based project to design and develop a fully functioning web app for the College community.

“We’re very proud of the relationship our faculty and students have developed with our colleagues in Marketing and Web Presence,” says Haider Al-Saidi, Chair, Applied Computer Education (ACE). “Students gain most when they work on real-world problems and solutions, and it’s extra special to be able to do that for your school and fellow students.”

The app — which has a mobile-first design but works on all devices — can be used to access an RRC social media aggregator, an interactive campus maps utility, and a campus-specific user-generated events stream. Staying true to RRC’s brand, the app also allows user to access a real-time stream of job postings for students and grads.

“The goal of the app is simply to increase the quality of life at RRC by informing and engaging our audiences on whatever connected device they happen to have at their fingertips,” says Christian Robin, RRC’s Director of Marketing and Web Presence. “The version that’s out now was completed with help from one of our alumni, Paul Everton (BIT, 2007). The app has an API that will allow us to continue to work with students to test and build out additional functionality, and eventually launch native apps for iOS and Android devices.”

Use the free app today at rrclife.ca.

Honorary Diploma recipients inducted into Order of Manitoba

July 14, 2017

RRC honorary diploma recipients Dave Angus and Lisa Meeches

A pair of Red River College’s Honorary Diploma recipients are among the distinguished dozen inducted into the Order of Manitoba this week.

Lisa Meeches, who received an honorary RRC diploma in Creative Communications in 2014, and Dave Angus, who received an honorary diploma in Business Administration in 2015, were among those recognized with the province’s highest honour during a ceremony at the Legislative Building on Thursday.

A highly respected TV and film producer, Meeches is the president of Eagle Vision Inc., as well as a four-time Canadian Screen Awards nominee, and a two-time winner for the docu-drama, praised by residential school survivors for its power to heal the wounds of the past.

She has received critical acclaim for a number of past projects, including The Sharing Circle, Canada’s longest-running Indigenous TV series; Tipi Tales, a Parent’s Choice Award-winning children’s series; the Gemini Award-winning TV movie Elijah; and the CSA-winning Jack, among many others. She’s also been integral to the success of the Manito Ahbee Festival since its inception, first acting as board chair, and later as executive director.

Angus, meanwhile, is a long-standing fixture of the city’s business community, having served as president and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce until last summer. Under his leadership, the Chamber increased its membership to the highest level in its history.

Angus also played an instrumental role in bringing a World Trade Centre to Winnipeg, and in establishing Leadership Winnipeg, Yes! Winnipeg, and the BOLD initiative — a grassroots public policy campaign designed to mobilize community support for forward-thinking ideas.

Previous RRC honorary degree/diploma recipients who’ve been inducted into the Order of Manitoba include former Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Bob Brennan, Asper Foundation president Gail Asper, medical trailblazer Dr. June James, humanitarian (and former Palliser Furniture CEO) Art DeFehr, Western Glove Works president Bob Silver, and former premier Duff Roblin.

Paul Charette named RRC's 2017 Honorary Degree recipient, 50 years after first graduating from College

June 5, 2017

Paul Charette, Gerri Charette, and Paul Vogt
He’s a titan of industry, a paragon of philanthropy and a proud Red River College graduate.

So naturally, the College is just as proud to congratulate Paul Charette on receiving this year’s Honorary Degree — a distinction that comes exactly 50 years after he first graduated from RRC.

"We are thrilled to present Paul with an honorary degree and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his graduation from Red River College," says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at right, with Charette and wife Gerri).

"We are very fortunate to have graduates like Paul, who share their vision and support and are constant ambassadors for RRC across the country. Paul's generosity and enthusiasm for our College, as well as his commitment to providing opportunities for our graduates, is essential to what we are building at RRC."

The former CEO of Bird Construction, Charette graduated from RRC’s Civil Technology program back in 1967 (after receiving a $200 bursary from the Women’s Auxiliary of West Kildonan).

He added to his credentials with a Computer Programming degree in 1968, then worked for nine years with Manitoba Hydro on the development of the Nelson River and Manitoba Rolling Mills expansion projects.

In 1976, Charette began working for Bird Construction — first as a project coordinator, then as chief operating officer (1988), chief executive office (1991), and chair of the board (2001). During that time, he led the company through a period of substantial growth, increasing revenues from $90 million in 1988 to more than $1 billion in 2008, when he stepped down as CEO.

The Charettes are RRC's most prominent individual donors, having over the years established two award endowments — which fund 12 student awards each year — and the Paul and Gerri Charette Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction. Read More →

Teacher Education grads boost applied learning capabilities for students in Steinbach

April 19, 2017

Selkirk Regional Secondary School staff

James Gibson knows the value of hands-on education.

For one, the vice-principal of Steinbach Regional Secondary School sees his students learning by doing every day – whether they’re chiseling timber frames, installing electrical outlets or painting vehicles in some the school’s 10 vocational areas.

But Gibson (shown above, at centre) also understands how crucial it is for some students to get out from behind their desks – because he was once one of those students himself.

“I’m not a big ‘in the regular classroom’ kind of guy,” says the Red River College graduate. “I like to be up and moving around and doing things with my hands.”

RRC’s Teacher Education program allowed Gibson to do just that. Specializing in Industrial Arts, he was able to expand his knowledge and experience in woodworking and welding, among other areas. Along with the Industrial Arts diploma he received from RRC in 2004, he earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of Winnipeg in 2005, thanks to a joint program between the schools.

“The program gives you the confidence to be able to take something apart and fix it and not be scared about it anymore,” says Gibson, who was born in England and moved to Winnipeg at the age of 13.

After teaching Industrial Arts in Elie, Man., for a couple of years, he moved to Steinbach in 2007 to teach junior high. He later took at position at SRSS teaching carpentry, and more recently stepped into the administrative role of vice-principal.

Even though he’s behind a desk more often than not, Gibson can rest assured the school’s vocational students are receiving top-notch training. That’s because a majority of the hands-on instructors at SRSS are Teacher Education grads, just like him. Read More →

RRC grad awarded inaugural Disability Studies scholarship from University of Winnipeg

April 18, 2017

A Red River College grad who’s now completing a joint honours degree at the University of Winnipeg is the inaugural winner of that institution’s Disability Studies scholarship.

Evan Wicklund, who completed RRC’s Disability and Community Support program in 2013, is now in his final year of study in UWinnipeg’s Disability Studies program. He’ll be the first student to complete the program with an honour’s degree.

Having explored several sub-sectors of the disability field over the years, Wicklund believes the critical engagement made possible by the joint program is key to understanding alternatives to disability as a bio-medical phenomenon.

“If we contextualize ‘disability’ through rights, social constructionist, or intersectional frameworks, we will be afforded the opportunity to think about disability in new and imaginative ways,” he told UWinnipeg.

“As someone engaged with community organizations as well as the academy, I advocate for disability studies because it acknowledges the value of critical thinking and reflexivity, while maintaining the fundamental values of diversity and human rights.”

Wicklund presented his work at the International Initiative on Disability Leadership Conference in Vancouver in 2015, and has a paper accepted at this spring’s annual meeting of the Canadian Disability Studies Association.

He also works as a special projects officer for the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies, having been hired there after completing his work practicum.

UWinnipeg’s new award was established to recognize students who demonstrate academic excellence and community involvement. The Disability Studies program was established in partnership with RRC in 2010, prior to which there was no way to proceed from RRC’s diploma program to UWinnipeg’s degree.

— Naniece Ibrahim, University of Winnipeg

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